Compiled by Tom Fetzer and Susan Vick 

The General Assembly recessed last week after an impasse about spending/ budget adjustments. The adjournment resolution provides for the legislature to return a few days each month through mid-November.  We do not anticipate any substantive policy-making until they return November 19. 

What could that include?

Budget Impasse

As we previewed at the CRMCA summer meeting, despite Republican supermajorities controlling both the House and Senate chambers at the NC General Assembly, the legislature did not agree on budget adjustments for the 2025 fiscal year.  

Legislators previously passed the two-year, 2024-2025 budget last October—a budget that spends right at $30B each year.  Adjustments are not mandatory–but could have addressed interim needs within various state agencies, possible state employee or teacher salary adjustments, and opportunity scholarship funding. 

  • The impasse between the House and Senate centered around the $1B anticipated revenue surplus and whether additional funds should be spent from reserves.  The House wanted to dip into reserves and spend a total of around $2B more, while the Senate wanted to spend far less.   Each chamber passed its own version of a budget but never overcame their differences. 
  • Of note, the very concept the two chambers agreed upon before convening–directing over $450M to Opportunity Scholarships–was not funded based on the degree of discord. 
  • Also causing angst between the two chambers were a medical marijuana bill passed by the Senate and proposed video lottery terminal legislation.   Because the House would not take up the medical marijuana bill, the much-desired hemp regulation bill became part of a “hostage situation” at the end and was not passed through both chambers to become law.
  • The recess gives the legislators a “cooling off” period of at least a few months before returning to resume business. 

Did Anything Pass?

  • HB 198, the Legislature’s first DOT bill of short session, was vetoed by the Governor over concerns voiced by the Sierra Club on the removal of redbud trees around outdoor advertising spaces.  Republicans achieved an override of that veto, which extended/modified the Build NC Bond Act to free up the remaining $1.7B for use that is contained in the bill.  Also, of note in the bill are the extension of two pilot projects that serve to expedite DOT work—the Construction Manager concept and the Progressive-Design-Build concept. 
  • A revised HB 199 passed and took aim at DMV after extensive frustration with long-wait times experienced by North Carolinians when interacting with the agency.  The bill requires DMV to modernize, study or implement several process measures (mobile driver’s licenses, print-on-demand registration statements, etc).  Of note, the bill requires the state requirements for a commercial driver’s license comply with federal law

Back in February, Senate Transportation Chair Michael Lazzara proposed privatizing DMV to improve efficiency and customer service. 

  • SB 166, the extensive Building Code Regulatory Reform bill (70+ pages), was passed in the waning hours of session. Recall the bill addresses new local government curb and gutter design requirements, performance guarantees for subdivisions; prohibit supplemental, remote residential parking facilities, and technical corrections on private driveway design standards.  UPDATE: as of the time of this writing, Governor Cooper decided to veto this bill.  That means it will not become law until/unless the General Assembly returns to Raleigh and attempts to override the veto. 
  • HB 912, a bill to allow certain public universities to undertake construction projects without public funding (through bonds, grants, reserves, etc) passed.  The projects are as follows:

SB 607 is a hodge-podge, slimmed-down version of a larger regulatory reform bill and took shape the last two-days of session when it became clear the larger bill would not pass.   SB 607 contains the following provisions of interest: 

  • Increase the punishment for crimes against “critical infrastructure” including public water, wastewater facilities and manufacturing facilities;
  • Coal Combustion Residual Reports will be due annually, instead of quarterly

What Happens Next? 

  • We may see the General Assembly return for a few days this summer to pass constitutional amendments to be placed on the November ballot. But we do not anticipate any other substantive policy considerations until November.
  • The current Speaker of the House, Tim Moore, will be leaving this fall/winter to assume his freshman seat in US Congress.

Transportation Bond

A bond referendum will be on the ballot this November for several projects totaling approximately $25M.  The projects include a connector road between South Point and Belmont and multiple intersection and pedestrian improvements. 

Labor Commissioner Race and Worker Safety

The Charlotte Observer highlighted the two candidates for Labor Commissioner by noting they agree on one item—the fact that too many construction workers are dying on the job.  Democrat Braxton Winston and Republican Luke Farley both note, that on average, one construction worker is killed very 10 days on a job site in NC. Both candidates have ideas on how to address the trend, including better training and more staffing.